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Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors

Family is Holy

In The Christophers’ online video series, Father Jonathan Morris reflects on the importance of cultivating unity within the family. In a short episode titled “Family Drama,” Father Morris says, “God gave the family unit a holy nature.” And later, he says, “Because family is so holy, so special, we have a special responsibility to keep our families intact the best that we can.”

                Father Morris points out that Jesus was born into a family around which much drama swirled. Imagine the gossip that must have occurred when Mary became pregnant out of wedlock. Guided by God, Joseph remained true to his vow to marry her and they came together to form a family unit. The Holy Family remains a model of loyalty amid turmoil, and Mary and Joseph’s dedication to raise Jesus in a safe and loving environment must have played a profound role in His outlook on life and eventual ministry. 

                Reflecting on the familiarity that develops within families where we know all the good and bad that occurs in each other’s lives, Father Morris notes that unity can become much more difficult to achieve when we allow our differences to lead to division. He says, “My recommendation would be to recognize that the family is holy and we do whatever we have to do to say, ‘I disagree with you, but I love you.’ And that doesn’t mean to every time say, ‘I disagree with you.’ No, it’s saying to the other, ‘I’m willing to love you in your imperfection, knowing that I am full of imperfections.’”

At the canonization ceremony for Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2014, Pope Francis called him the “pope of the family,” referencing his promotion of the “gospel of life” in his travels throughout the world. That day has been called the “Mass of four popes” because Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was present and because Pope John XXIII was also being canonized.

Pope Francis said of John Paul II and John XXIII that they “were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus…They were not…scandalized by Him and His cross,” and he said they “saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles.” What a great model these two saints provide us for practicing charity within the family. When we have disagreements or see someone going astray, we must recognize their need for us to show them love.

When our relationships become rocky, Father Morris counsels us to take the attitude, “I will be the one to take the humble steps. I will get closer. I will move them closer to me by my love, not by my force.”

At the “Mass of four popes,” Francis called John XXIII “the pope of docility,” and that spirit of docility is a great approach for cultivating unity with those we love because it enables us to reject a prideful attitude and react to different circumstances in ways that are most effective.

We should pray for the intercession of Saint Pope John XXIII to become docile to the workings of the Holy Spirit, and for the intercession of Saint Pope John Paul II in bringing peace to our families. And we can be sure that he will watch over us, as Pope Francis said of John Paul II’s care for the family at the Mass of four popes, “from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains us.”

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note ACCEPTING THAT GOD LOVES YOU, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org